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Budget cuts, layoffs coming to centralized offices of Archdiocese of St Paul-Minneapolis

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Staff cuts and layoffs are coming to the centralized offices of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in St. Paul.

The Pioneer Press reports the archdioceses will implement budget cuts of 20 percent starting this month. The archdiocese does not blame the cost of addressing and settling sexual abuse claims by clergy as the reason for the shortfall, noting that budgets and staff that have grown over the past several years need to be cut back.

"Even without including unanticipated legal and other outside professional fees, our current operational budget is unsustainable," archdiocese Vicar General Charles Lachowitzer said.

On its website, the archdiocese said in a statement that its Chancery Corporation will cut more than $5 million from its budget. The Chancery Corporation employs about 150 people. A final plan for the cuts will be presented to Archbishop John Nienstedt later this month.

Budgets of individual parishes, schools or other institutions won't be directly affected by the cuts; other local Catholic entities such as Catholic Charities operate as separate corporations. The Archdiocese has 222 parish churches in 12 Minnesota counties in the Twin Cities area.

At the time of the settlement announcement in a settlement case last month, Lachowitzer acknowledged the pending sexual abuse claims now before the archdiocese could result in bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, in an e-mail to the Pioneer Press, whistle blower Jennifer Haselberger, former chancellor for canonical affairs for the archdiocese, said she suspects that clergy abuse cases have taken a toll on donations and hurt the bottom line.

"I suspect that this mid-budget year belt tightening is less a consequence of the Doe 1 settlement than an acknowledgment that the faithful of this Archdiocese are no longer willing to contribute financially to an institution that has proven itself to be a very poor steward of the resources it has been given," she wrote.

On her blog, Haselberger, a former canon lawyer, said reorganization at the Archdioceses is "long overdue," but she expressed concern about where the cuts will fall.

"If those reductions were to occur from amongst the ranks of those who are most responsible for the current crisis, I would celebrate such an announcement (should it occur). It is far more likely though that those individuals will be the architects and implementers of any proposed organization, and that the negative consequences will fall most strongly on the innocent and goodhearted people who have tried to be of service to the people of God," she writes.

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